piezoelectric, finite element simulation, repair, delamination, composite structures


Damage in composite material fabricated aerospace, aeronautical, mechanical, civil and offshore structures often results from factors such as fatigue, corrosion and accidents. Such damage when left unattended can grow at an alarming rate due to the singularity of the stress and strain in the vicinity of the damage. It can lead to increase in the vibration level, reduction in the load carrying capacity, deterioration in the normal performance of the component and even catastrophic failure. In most conditions, the service life of damaged components is extended with repair instead of immediate replacement. Effective repair of structural damage is therefore an important and practical topic. Repair can extend the service life and can be a cost efficient alternative to immediate replacement of the damaged component. Most conventional repair methods involve welding, riveting or mounting additional patches on the parent structure without removing the damaged portion. These methods tend to be passive and inflexible, faced with the limitations of adjusting the repair to the changes in external loads.Besides, in certain cases these methods may lead to additional damage to the structure. For example, the in-situ drilling required in some cases can cause damage to items such as hidden or exposed hydraulic lines and electrical cables. Welding or bonding patches can cause significant stress alterations and serious stress corrosion problems, apart from burdening the weight sensitive structures. Above all, effective repair applying conventional analytical methods hinges on calculation of the singularity of stress and strain in the vicinity of the damage, which is be a difficult as only approximate solutions are available. Thus, a need is felt to update the repair methods with the advancement in fields of materials, sensing and actuating. This can make the repair more effective and efficient than conventional repair methodology. Current research proposes the use of piezoelectric materials in repair of delaminated composite structures. A detailed mechanics analysis of the delaminated beams, subjected to concentrated static loads and axial compressive loads, is presented. The discontinuity of shear stresses induced at delamination tips due to bending of the beams, under action of concentrated static load and axially compressive load, is studied. This discontinuity of the shear stresses normally leads to the sliding mode of fracture of the beam structures. In order to ensure proper functioning of these beam structures, electromechanical characteristics of piezoelectric materials are employed for their repair. Numerical simulations are conducted to calculate the repair voltage to be applied to the piezoelectric patches to erase the discontinuity of horizontal shear stress at the delamination tips and thus, render the beam repaired. The variation of repair voltage with location and size of the delamination is considered. FE simulations are performed to validate the numerically calculated voltage values. The research presented serves to provide information on the design of piezoelectric materials for the repair of delaminated composite structures.


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Graduation Date





Wang, Quan


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering








Release Date

January 2006

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)